Trade

With a level playing field and an accessible market, manufacturers in America can out-perform any competitor. That’s why we need smart trade deals that expand opportunities to sell our products around the world and ensure global trade is open, fair and free.

Business Operations

NAM Gets New International Policy Lead

Former Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for World Trade Organization and Multilateral Affairs Andrea Durkin has joined the NAM as vice president of international policy, the NAM announced Monday.

An experienced leader: “Andrea brings a wealth of expertise to the job, with more than three decades of service in both the public and private sectors,” NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons said. “As a leader in international trade negotiations, her deep understanding of international policy will enhance the NAM’s strategic objectives significantly as we continue to build off of successful engagements with our counterparts across Europe and the North American continent.”

  • Durkin is a foremost U.S. expert on international policy, having worked in both Republican and Democratic presidential administrations. In her most recent role, at the USTR in the Executive Office of the President, she negotiated policy regarding issues before the WTO. She also led the operation of committees on technical barriers to trade, industrial subsidies, trade facilitation and more.
  • Her negotiations credentials include free trade agreements in the Western Hemisphere and the trade-related portions of United Nations’ multilateral environment and public health agreements.

A teacher and an entrepreneur: An adjunct professor for 17 years, Durkin taught international trade and investment policy at Georgetown University’s Master of Science in Foreign Service program.

  • She is also the founder of Sparkplug, LLC, a consulting firm that specialized in advising corporate affairs teams and think tank leaders on organizational strategy.
Press Releases

USTR’s WTO Lead Andrea Durkin to Lead NAM International Policy Team

NAM Advocates Global Trade Strategy That Will Open New Markets with Our Allies and Create Vast Opportunities for Manufacturers in the U.S.

Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Manufacturers announced that former Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for WTO and Multilateral Affairs Andrea Durkin is joining the NAM as the new vice president of international policy.

“Andrea brings a wealth of expertise to the job, with more than three decades of service in both the public and private sectors. As a leader in international trade negotiations, her deep understanding of international policy will enhance the NAM’s strategic objectives significantly as we continue to build off of successful engagements with our counterparts across Europe and the North American continent,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons.

“As manufacturers in America look for new ways to reach global markets and the 95% of customers that live outside the borders of the United States, Andrea is set to lead an ambitious expansion of the NAM’s international policy operation. She will work to uphold our commitment to shaping a global trade strategy that opens new markets with our allies and trading partners around the world, which, in turn, will create vast opportunities for manufacturers in the U.S. to create well-paying jobs, innovate and achieve new milestones in improving the quality of life for everyone.”

Durkin is one of the nation’s foremost experts on international policy, drawing from decades of experience serving in Democratic and Republican administrations. As a senior executive in the Office of the President, she led trade negotiations and U.S. policy at the WTO and was responsible for committees on industrial subsidies, technical barriers to trade, government procurement, trade facilitation, customs and others. She was also the U.S. senior official for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Trade Committee, G7 and G20 trade tracks.

In years prior, Durkin served in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, where she led a variety of negotiations, including free trade agreements in the Western Hemisphere, sectoral initiatives in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and trade-related aspects of United Nations’ multilateral environment and public health agreements.

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs nearly 13 million men and women, contributes $2.89 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 53% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Policy and Legal

A Key Trading Partner: The NAM Hosts Make UK, Parliament Members

a group of people standing next to a man in a suit and tie

The United Kingdom and United States have many things in common, but perhaps most important is their shared democratic values. These, along with sound trade policies on both sides of the pond, will help propel each respective nation forward.

  • That was the main message conveyed during a business roundtable discussion between the NAM and its British counterpart association, Make UK, on Monday.

What went on: In attendance at the meeting at the NAM’s Washington, D.C., headquarters were a delegation of eight members of Parliament who sit on the Business and Trade Commission, British Embassy representatives and nearly two dozen U.S.- and U.K.-based manufacturers.

  • The focus of the event—which came approximately a year after the NAM and Make UK signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on programming—was to explore ways to enhance the U.S.–U.K. trade and economic relationship. There is no free trade agreement between the U.K. and the U.S.
  • The delegation, led by House of Commons Business and Trade Committee Chair Rt. Hon. Liam Byrne of the Labour Party, is also in the U.S. for talks with members of the Biden administration, Congress and the business community to discuss U.K. export growth and manufacturing strategy.

Why it’s important: In the absence of an official FTA between the U.S. and the U.K., the two nations must “be pragmatic about measures our businesses and our governments can take now that will help our economies grow, create jobs, innovate and prosper together,” NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons told the delegation.

  • Make UK CEO Stephen Phipson CBE said event attendees all agreed that “as we move closer to our respective domestic elections this year and with the challenges to the framework of global trade continuing, [we must] lean into future bilateral cooperation on trade, innovation, energy and technology, [as well as] defense-sector cooperation.”

Policy talk: Roundtable participants discussed “big-ticket” legislation that has proved particularly important to manufacturers in recent years: the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 and parts of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

  • The pro-growth elements in these measures “make our industry more competitive, empowering manufacturers to invest in new facilities and new equipment, expand production and to create jobs,” Timmons went on.

By the numbers: Continued good relations between the U.S. and the U.K. are key not just because of the shared belief in and commitment to democracy, but also because of the large role each nation plays in the other’s economy.

  • The U.S. is the U.K.’s single biggest trading partner by country, having accounted for more than 16% of total trade in 2022.
  • That same year, U.S. exports to the U.K. were $76.2 billion, an increase of 40% from prior years. Meanwhile, in 2022, American imports from the U.K. were $64.0 billion.

Come what may: Though the U.S. is fast approaching an important and widely anticipated presidential election, the country will stay committed to its relationship with the U.K. no matter who wins in November, Timmons told the delegation.

  • “Regardless of the outcomes … we will remain resolved to strengthen our bonds and to do everything in our power to grow manufacturing competitiveness on both sides of the Atlantic.”
Input Stories

Trade, Investment Policy Can Promote Supply Chain Resilience for Manufacturers

The NAM told the Office of the United States Trade Representative this week that it must use existing trade and investment tools to promote supply chain resilience for manufacturers in the U.S.

What’s going on: “Manufacturers and workers in the U.S. need USTR to undertake a proactive and competitive trade and investment policy that opens markets, eliminates barriers, enables the sourcing of necessary inputs and creates opportunities for inbound and outbound investment,” the NAM said Monday.

  • The suggestions were in response to a USTR call for comment on “strategies that [will] advance U.S. supply chain resilience” (Federal Register).

What should be done: While manufacturers appreciate engagement with partners through frameworks such as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework and the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity, the NAM encourages the government to “aggressively pursue ambitious agreements that include market access and the true removal of barriers to economic engagement with our partners.” The USTR can help manufacturers by:

  • Adjusting or eliminating “current tariffs on manufacturers and ensur[ing] they are applied in such a way that creates a competitive environment for manufacturing in the U.S.”;
  • “Negotiating more high-quality, modernized trade agreements with foreign partners” to remove trade barriers and address discriminatory measures; and
  • Enforcing on-the-books trade agreements “to ensure that our trading partners are playing by the rules.”

Why it’s important: The aforementioned actions (and others) by the USTR would create “a competitive environment for manufacturers in the U.S. to succeed,” the NAM said.

Input Stories

NAM to White House: Stand Up for U.S. Businesses, Workers


The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative must revise its digital trade policy now to reassert American leadership, the NAM and more than 40 industry partners told the Biden administration ahead of U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai’s testimony this morning before the House Committee on Ways and Means.

What’s going on: In the past few years, the USTR has “retreat[ed] from digital trade protections,” the groups told National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and National Economic Council Director Lael Brainard. Problematic actions/items by the USTR include:

  • The October 2023 withdrawal of longstanding U.S. World Trade Organization positions that support the protection of cross-border data flows, stop data localization requirements, end discrimination against U.S. firms and their goods and services and protect sensitive data from bad actors;
  • Abandonment of core U.S. policy priorities in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity; and
  • The omission in the USTR’s 2024 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers of numerous digital trade barriers, despite the statutory obligation under the Trade Act of 1974 to detail such barriers.

Why it’s important: These moves raise “deep economic and national security concerns,” the groups continued. They are in direct opposition to the interest of U.S. companies and their employees, and they give greater power to foreign nations, including China, “to write the rules that will govern the global digital economy for years to come.”

What must be done: The USTR must revise its stance on digital trade to “stand up for U.S. businesses and workers who face damaging digital trade barriers in foreign countries.”

Policy and Legal

U.S. and European Union Strengthen Transatlantic Trade Ties

The sixth ministerial of the United States–European Union Trade and Technology Council, held in Leuven, Belgium, emphasized the deepening cooperation between the U.S. and the EU in navigating global economic pressures and technological advancements.

What’s going on: Secretary of State Antony Blinken, joined by Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, joined European Commission leaders in a discussion that centered on fostering economic security, the importance of AI governance, cooperation on secure supply chains and a transatlantic commitment to reducing reliance on high-risk suppliers.

  • This collaboration, Secretary Blinken said in remarks to the press at the council’s outset, proved that there has been “increasing alignment” between the United States and the European Union on these and other issues in recent years.
  • “Together, we represent almost half of world GDP, and that means that there’s a certain weight that comes with having a shared position on something,” Secretary Blinken said. “And whether that’s dealing with China or any other challenge, it makes a big difference.”

Growing collaboration in AI: The meeting additionally underscored unwavering support for Ukraine from the U.S. and the EU amid geopolitical challenges, as well as a commitment to driving innovation and security in technology and trade.

  • One tangible outcome of the TTC was an update of the “Terminology and Taxonomy for Artificial Intelligence” (i.e., of the definitions of key terms used by the EU and U.S. when discussing AI). This underpins the workstream of the TTC to “ensure the safe, secure and trustworthy development and use of AI,” according to the U.S.–EU joint statement.

Shared concerns about Chinese semiconductors: Competition from heavily subsidized chips produced in China was a key focus at the ministerial, particularly in light of the anticipated ramping up of “legacy chips” manufactured in China over the next few years. The Chinese government’s significant financial subsidization of the chip-producing sector, Secretary Raimondo warned, could lead to considerable market imbalances between China and the U.S. and EU.

  • Both the U.S. and EU pledged to continue working together to address destabilizing Chinese exports of semiconductors in the coming years, including to collect and share nonconfidential information and market intelligence about nonmarket policies and practices, to consult each other on planned actions and to potentially develop joint or cooperative measures to address distortionary effects on the global supply chain for legacy semiconductors.
Policy and Legal

NAM to White House: Maintain, Improve Trade Facilitation Measure

As lawmakers consider proposals to scale back the de minimis treatment of low-value goods entering the U.S., the NAM and several of its partners are reminding stakeholders of the importance of having a streamlined, tariff-free customs entry process for such imports.

  • These shipments are still subject to all U.S. laws and information requirements that enable enforcement at the border.

Last week, a group consisting of labor unions, select business associations and other stakeholders formed a coalition against certain de minimis imports, according to CNBC 

A critical provision: The NAM and six allied groups pushed back, urging the White House to maintain the so-called “de minimis” import entry type, which permits goods valued at less than $800 to enter the U.S. in a streamlined manner and tax-free.

  • “De minimis has benefitted thousands of American small businesses across all sectors,” said the groups. “For example, de minimis allows businesses to obtain inputs for domestically manufactured products into the United States more efficiently and with fewer unnecessary administrative requirements.”
  • “It has also made purchasing goods online more affordable and accessible for consumers at a time of inflation and supply chain challenges. … The average value of a de minimis package is roughly $50. If de minimis were to be eliminated or significantly degraded … a $50 delivery could become a more than $100 delivery.” 

Combating disinformation: Proponents of eliminating or significantly degrading de minimis cite several concerns with the entry type that are unfounded, the NAM and its allies said.

  • “There is no evidence that illegal products are more prevalent in de minimis shipments,” they went on, citing a CBP executive who refuted the false claim that de minimis shipments aren’t screened.
  • When it comes to fentanyl, “[a]s government enforcement statistics make clear, the overwhelming majority of fentanyl enters the United States in large shipments from Mexico … smuggled in passenger vehicles, by pedestrians, and concealed in truck shipments. De minimis packages, on the other hand, arrive in the United States overwhelmingly by air transportation throughout the country.”
  • Finally, eliminating the de minimis entry type would strain border control. “[D]egrading de minimis and routing one billion shipments into more resource intensive processing streams would require tens of thousands of CBP personnel to process information that is not related to enforcement and collect duty, rather than spending that time on activities that would actually interdict illicit items.”

Other solutions: The letter urges the administration to consider “practical, innovative ways to improve de minimis without increasing costs for consumers and small businesses.”

  • Customs and Border Protection should use the authority it already has to build on existing enforcement of U.S. trade laws at the border by separating the vast universe of compliant shipments from illicit packages.
  • This can be done through a rulemaking to formalize ongoing tests that require additional information on low-value shipments, closing information sharing gaps and employing a more “future proof” approach to include the use of technology.
Press Releases

WTO Heeds Manufacturers’ Warnings; Industry Appreciates Biden and Tai’s Leadership

Washington, D.C. – Following the completion of the 13th World Trade Organization ministerial meeting in Abu Dhabi, at which WTO members chose not to expand the agreement on the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights waiver to include diagnostics and therapeutics, National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons released the following statement:

“Global leaders at the WTO heard manufacturers’ stark warnings that an expansion of the TRIPS waiver would have endangered manufacturers’ fundamental ability to fight global crises, including COVID-19. Granting this waiver also would have emboldened our global competitors, chipped away at American innovation and jeopardized our ability to fight future diseases. After years of NAM advocacy, this decision represents a major victory for manufacturers—particularly those hard at work developing lifesaving cures and treatments. We appreciate President Biden and Ambassador Tai’s leadership to secure this outcome.”

The NAM led advocacy efforts to alert policymakers to the danger of an expanded TRIPS waiver, weighing in directly with the Biden administration, members of Congress, foreign governments and business organizations and urging Washington to stand with manufacturers. Timmons also took this message directly to WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala during a March 2023 meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

“Another welcome action was WTO members’ decision to expand the moratorium on e-commerce tariffs,” Timmons added. “The e-commerce moratorium has enabled the digital economy to flourish, and the NAM urges U.S. trade officials to push for permanently instituting the moratorium at the WTO, so that this critical element of digital commerce doesn’t come with an expiration date.”

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs nearly 13 million men and women, contributes $2.85 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 53% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Press Releases

NAM Board Leadership: Act Swiftly on Manufacturing Priorities and Ukraine Aid

Phoenix, AZ. In advance of the White House meeting with President Biden and congressional leadership, National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons, NAM Board Chair and Johnson & Johnson Executive Vice President and Chief Technical Operations & Risk Officer Kathy Wengel and NAM Board Vice Chair and Rockwell Automation Chairman and CEO Blake Moret released the following joint statement:

“For the strength of our democracy here at home and the protection of democracy around the world, manufacturers are calling on Congress and President Biden to act swiftly to keep the government open, pass pro-growth tax provisions, secure our border and approve urgently needed aid for Ukraine.

“Two years ago, the NAM Board unanimously passed a resolution ‘stand[ing] with the people of Ukraine in their fight to preserve freedom and independence.’ Last year, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke to the NAM Board of Directors in an address to the American business community, where he underscored that ‘democracy is stronger than tyranny’ and reminded us of the importance of standing firm for our shared values.

“With time running short, manufacturers are looking to our leaders to act. They can address all of these priorities. In fact, they must address them all—for the future of our industry, the security of our country and the defense of democracy.”

Timmons echoed this message in remarks to the NAM Board this afternoon.

BACKGROUND:

On March 8, 2022, the NAM Board of Directors passed a resolution “stand[ing] with the people of Ukraine in their fight to preserve freedom and independence” and “reaffirm[ing] the commitment of this association and our industry to sustaining and safeguarding democracy and democratic institutions not only here at home, but also abroad.”

On Jan. 24, 2023, the NAM and the Ukrainian League of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs signed a Memorandum of Understanding to formalize manufacturers’ commitment to supporting Ukraine, and the NAM and its member companies participated in a “Rebuilding Ukraine” roundtable with Ukrainian manufacturers and senior Ukrainian government officials.

Then, in March 2023, the NAM traveled to Belgium, France, Germany, Poland, Switzerland and the United Kingdom for a series of meetings with international officials, government ministers, ambassadors, business association leaders and NAM member companies to strengthen alliances and underscore at every opportunity our support for Ukraine and democracy more generally.

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs nearly 13 million men and women, contributes $2.85 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 53% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Business Operations

Timmons Talks Trade, Tariffs, Democracy in Washington, D.C.

a group of people standing in a room

U.S. competitiveness on the world stage, trade agreements, intellectual property, democracy and regulatory certainty—these were just some of the topics NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons covered in a Tuesday interview with POLITICO’s Doug Palmer during the 2024 Washington International Trade Conference.

  • The meeting was attended by senior U.S. trade officials and foreign ambassadors and hosted by the Washington International Trade Association in Washington, D.C.

Safeguarding IP: With the World Trade Organization’s 13th Ministerial Conference coming up later this month, Timmons discussed the damage that would result from one of the meeting’s expected agenda items: an expansion of a 2022 TRIPS waiver on IP rights to include COVID-19 therapeutics and diagnostics.

  • “Intellectual property is truly the lifeblood of manufacturing,” said Timmons, who met with WTO Director-General Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and WTO Deputy Director General Angela Ellard in Geneva last March to discuss the waiver.
  • Manufacturers “work hard, and it’s always been kind of a given from the U.S. perspective that intellectual property protections would be front and center. … Obviously, we want to facilitate the growth of manufacturing in other areas of the world, too. But … [it] is a giant leap too far if therapeutics and diagnostics are included in the waiver.”
  • American agreement to the expanded waiver, Timmons said, would be tantamount to the federal government telling manufacturers in the U.S., “By the way, we want you to invest in developing more innovations here in this country if we’re just going to turn around and give them away.”

 Trade and tariffs: If the U.S. wants to remain competitive, we must negotiate a trade agreement now—and pass the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill, Timmons told Palmer.

  • “Trade is really the recipe for peace and the recipe for working together harmoniously,” he said. “We’d like to see more trade agreements. We haven’t seen one negotiated here in the United States for over 10 years—and the rest of the world, quite frankly, is eating our lunch when it comes to negotiating these agreements.”
  • The U.S., which has been operating without an MTB for more than three years, “need[s] MTB to not just meet our economic goals and not just feed the supply chains of manufacturers, but also to meet our national security objectives.”

Democracy vs. autocracy: Timmons—who last July led the American business community delegation to Cancun, Mexico, for meetings ahead of the third U.S.–Mexico–Canada Agreement “Free Trade Commission”—stressed the importance of the USMCA to underpinning democratic values worldwide.

  • “This agreement is incredibly important to our national security, and it is important to our place in the world,” Timmons continued. “We need to expand the relationship, whether it’s trade or other relationships here in North America, and we need to embrace the relationships and our allies around the world—in Europe and Australia and New Zealand and Japan and other areas—because we are facing a choice … between free market economies and democracies and command economies and autocracies, and I want to strengthen the former, not allow the latter to bloom.”

Other needs: Timmons talked about other manufacturing priorities for the current administration and the next.

  • “We need regulatory certainty that gives business leaders the ability to plan for the future,” he said. “We [also] need to invest in workforce incentives. All of those and infrastructure, which we have done, and we continue to do. You can’t just open up the trading system and not expect capital to flow outside of our borders if you don’t have the right policies internally.”

NAM in the news: Read POLITICO Pro’s coverage of the conference and Timmons’ interview here and here.

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